One of the things I respect and appreciate most about SEI as an organization is how much it prioritizes the causes important to their employees by committing time and financial support to impactful, local community organizations. As part of a team that plans community service events for our Atlanta office, I can say that our yearly roadmap of service is dictated by our employees. Our EPIC model, which emphasizes excellence in service, applies as much to our communities as our clients.
My husband and I have been supporters of the Atlanta Mission for some time. The Mission’s goal is simple in words, but a challenge to achieve: to end homelessness. We were drawn to its model, which supports men, women, and children climbing out of homelessness through a well thought-out program that gives each of them a foundation of support to build on. The individuals (our clients) going through their program are given respect, sustenance, and a specific and tailored path to ending their homelessness. My family’s involvement and support of the Atlanta Mission has grown over the years and so has the support from SEI. At the beginning of this year, SEI provided volunteers and runners for the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, a 5K scheduled intentionally in the cold days of February to give runners a glimpse into life in the elements. Now, my colleagues regularly attend events like Fun Fridays, which are game nights with the women and children living in in My Sister’s House, one of the Mission’s facilities.
But what really sets SEI apart is how my colleagues (and the office as whole) applies its time-tested skills of “answering a question before it’s asked” for our clients, to the world of service in our community. Throughout the year, my colleagues have identified and anticipated the needs of the women and children at My Sister’s House, and proactively organized ways to meet those needs. For example, after learning that a sponsor would be unable to provide Easter baskets for the kids at My Sister’s House, SEI stepped up to donate the resources needed to assemble and deliver over 80 baskets! Because holidays for children in a shelter are often a rare bright spot in a difficult season (or string of seasons), this made a huge impact on the children.
Since then, SEI has continued to assist My Sister’s House providing uniforms and school supplies, throwing monthly game nights including a Halloween game night, complete with décor lent to us by a festive SEI’er, and most recently, organizing a School Picture Day with a local photographer coming to the Center to take photos of each child. A package of printed photos was delivered to My Sister’s House just before Thanksgiving. At the risk of openly bragging about my co-workers, it takes a real sense of empathy to remember that the women here may not be able to afford school photos. As I write this, we are also organizing a Santa visit – a chance to hear some Christmas stories and for kids to be kids.
What I’ve learned in this informal partnership with SEI and My Sister’s House is that all that is needed to serve is a willing heart, some spare time, and an appreciation for the needs of others. Since my time at SEI began five years ago, I have consistently seen SEI deploy excellence in its service to each office’s community, participation in that service by team members and leadership alike, integrity by way of the funds generously donated to these causes, and true collaboration when it matters most: in the chance to actually make someone’s path even a little bit easier to walk. SEI’s support of the causes important to its people leaves a lasting legacy that is truly epic.